Lyme Disease

Type: Bacterial

Geography: United States and Europe

Cases Per Year: 365,000

Fatality Rate: 0.01%

First Discovered: 1981 by Willy Burgdorfer in the United States

The bacteria causing Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. People may lose the ability to move one or both sides of the face, or develop joint pains, severe headaches with neck stiffness, or heart palpitations, among other symptoms.

Lyme disease is the most common disease spread by ticks in the Northern Hemisphere. Infections are most common in the spring and early summer. Most cases can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.

Lyme disease can be prevented by wearing clothing to cover the arms and legs, using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat.

Photo: Borrelia burgdorferi, one of the causative agents of Lyme Disease – Micrograph.